The Seahawks returned from Pittsburgh Sunday night with a 2-0 record and the feeling that they’re just getting started as a young roster continues to grow and learn.
“We’re coming off a really good trip to Pittsburgh,” Carroll said. “… It was a good, physical football game, both sides of the ball, both teams getting after it. Everybody wanted to do well, compete and claw and scratch and all of that, so it was a good challenge for us, and the kind of game that we need. We need to have these games, we need to get through it and learn the lessons, and obviously it’s more fun and it’s better for us when we learn while we win. So it was a good outing.”
Here are six takeaways from Carroll’s Monday presser:
1. The offense had “a tremendous second half.”
The Seahawks managed only one first-half score, a Russell Wilson touchdown pass to Will Dissly, and multiple drives were hindered by sacks—the Steelers had four in the first two quarters—or penalties.
But once the offense found its way in the second half, the Seahawks were hard to stop, scoring touchdowns on three straight possessions at one point to take control of the game.
“The game plan turned out, it was what we had planned to do in the game, it just didn’t come together in the first half,” Carroll said. “(Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) zeroed in on some stuff at halftime with the guys, and I thought (offensive line coach Mike Solari) did a nice job with the guys up front settling them down, then what really changed was that Russ was just getting rid of the football so fast, and it was really hard for the (pass) rush to develop, and that complemented what we were doing with the running game, and we had a really consistent finish. We went three drives and scored—we gave them the football on the first play of the fourth drive—then we finished the game to end it. So we had a tremendous second half. It was the combination of the timing getting the ball out, and the protection being impeccable in the second half, and it gave us a great flow.
“I thought the whole mechanism really got sharp as the game wore on. We missed a couple (pressures) and that’s why we got sacked a couple of times. We missed the read and missed the call and it wasn’t just getting whipped on a block. Schematically, we could’ve done better. The coordination in the second half was just on it. The guys did a great job and they’d seen it once kind of and everybody came back out after halftime and everybody felt pretty comfortable with making the adjustments. The ball was just, Russ was on the mark and he was quick with the football and just didn’t let the pressure get even close to him.”
2. Carroll wants to see more of that quick passing game, but not at the expense of the deep ball.
While every game will be different depending on what opposing defenses throw at Wilson, Carroll thinks Wilson can have more games like Sunday’s in which he gets the ball out quickly to keep opposing pass rushes at bay. The Seahawks will still want to take shots down field to take advantage of one of Wilson’s biggest strengths, so don’t expect the Seahawks to go all dink-and-dunk offense going forward.
“We’ve got to capture the tempo that we threw the ball with the second half of that game, and some of the first half,” Carroll said. “That's what we really want, the tempo with the ball out. Russell can do it, and we’ve just got to continue to make that happen with every aspect of the throwing game. As well as using it to bomb you, he’s so good at it, he’s just good at it."
3. Seattle’s linebacker trio is “just getting started.”
While the Seahawks have long known what they have in the dynamic duo of Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, they are still learning how to play with those two and Mychal Kendricks all on the field together at the same time. The early returns with that linebacker trio playing together have been very encouraging, but Carroll also feels like they’re only scratching the surface of what that group can do for Seattle’s defense.
“I’m really excited about it,” Carroll said. “I’m really excited about the way these guys played this week. I really feel, this is as honest as I can get with you guys, I feel like we’re just getting started. I feel like we’re just getting going on what we can do and how to count on these guys and how to utilize their strengths. There are individual strengths that we really understand about K.J. and Bobby. We’ve been together for so long. Mychal we’re learning, but it’s more about the flow between those guys and how we can play off each other and all of that. I think we’re going to get better. I think we’re going to improve and we’re going to know more and we’re going to be more accurate with our calls and the way we use guys and all that. What I also like too is that Cody Barton’s been playing good enough football that he can back those guys up too. It isn’t like it’s dependent only on when the guys are on the field. I think we’ve got a chance to maybe be able to keep that thing rolling with some flexibility.”
4. Malik Turner is “a fantastic worker” and “such a competitive kid.”
Second-year receiver Malik Turner enjoyed his best game as a pro, catching three passes for 54 yards, and while other receivers such as Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf put up bigger numbers, Turner was one of the players about whom Carroll and Wilson were most excited because of how hard he has worked since going undrafted last year.
“I’m glad you asked about him because he’s a fantastic worker,” Carroll said. “He’s such a competitive kid. Every phase that he participates in, whether it’s blocking or receiving, special teams or whatever, everybody raves about his effort because it’s so obvious. He just gives you everything he’s got. He plays fast and he’s tough. He’s a natural player, got good field, can do a lot of stuff, he can play any position of the receivers and do all of the roles. He can fill the roles of the different spots that we have. He’s got really good versatility, and his work ethic, and his competitiveness is excellent. We’re really excited about him being out there and it was great he finally had the ball coming to him."
5. Will Dissly “picked up right where he left off.”
After being an early-season bright spot as a rookie, Will Dissly saw his 2018 season cut short by a patellar tendon injury in Week 4. That’s a serious injury that requires a long recovery, but Dissly was ahead of schedule throughout his rehab, and it’s showing early this season as he looks very much like the player he was to start last year.
Against Pittsburgh, Dissly had five catches for 50 yards, including a pair of touchdowns, and he would have had a huge game had a 43-yard gain not been wiped out by a penalty.
“He picked right up where he left off,” Carroll said. “He’s making extra yards and getting first downs for us. His hand placement when catching the football is really, really good. The ability to use his range too and Russ knows how to throw the ball. The first touchdown he threw to his back shoulder. It was a great throw. He kind of makes all that look easy. You didn’t see him get the football very much in college and they had a couple guys that played. He was a really good blocker. You go back to Will’s background. He’s a basketball player and a baseball player and all-around athlete. Things come natural to him. What he shows is that he has a little knack for making guys miss when he has the ball in his hands, too. We missed out on the scramble play, which had been another 40 yards or something. They made a nice adjustment to get open. Russ found him and all that. We’re really, really fired up about him. He had a terrific game this week.”
6. Carroll wants to see the Seahawks clean up the penalties.
The Seahawks have had 18 penalties enforced against them through two games, including 10 for 93 yards last week. While Carroll is willing to live with some penalties, that number was too big for his liking, particularly when some of them were so costly, either setting up Pittsburgh scores or costing the Seahawks points by knocking them out of field-goal range.
“Our hands have got to get cleaner,” Carroll said. “We’ve just got to do a better job. There are a couple of things that are really easy for the officials to see; they can see when you pull on a jersey. When that happens, that’s a penalty in all phases of our game now. When your hands and arms are extended in blocks, it’s just a red flag and here it comes. They can see that you don’t get it removed immediately, then you get called. That’s just being sloppy with their hands and we have to do better. We’re not there yet, we’re not on it yet. Our conscience isn’t right about it and I hope this hit hard enough this week. I hope the lessons are strong enough that we can make an impression on our guys. This isn’t something we missed. We’re just not accomplishing the objective of cleaning it up and we’ve got to get it done. Look at us on third and ten or less, we’re a good third down team. Everything beyond that, we stink and that’s going to continue to be difficult and those happen because of sacks or because of penalties and we’re getting third and fifteens and stuff. We have to clean that up.”
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 2 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.